“The introduction of railways had an adverse impact on the forests”

“The introduction of railways had an adverse impact on the forests”. Justify by giving examples.

From the 1860s, the railway network expanded rapidly. Sleepers were the basic inputs required for constructing a railway line. Each mile of a railway track required between 1700 to 2000 sleepers. To meet this demand, large number of trees were cut in India.

Earlier wood was needed in the railway tracks as the connecting part of the tracks was made of wood. Therefore, trees were cut on a large scale and supplied to the growing railways and its making industry in India.

To run locomotives, wood was needed as fuel. As railway was being spread throughout India, more and more wood was required which could be used as fuel. The government gave out contracts to individuals to supply the required quantities. These contractors began cutting trees indiscriminately. Thus, forests around the railway tracks started disappearing fast. As early as the 1850s, in the Madras presidency alone, 35000 trees were being cut annually for sleepers.